There are 11 critical essays on Gulliver's Travels.
Critical Essays on Gulliver's Travels
Critical Essay by Margaret Anne Doody
10,119 words, approx. 34 pages
Below, Doody argues that Swift's Gulliver's Travels, like all significant Western texts, builds on and is connected to the entire Western literary canon.
Critical Essay by Michael McKeon
9,570 words, approx. 32 pages
In the following essay, McKeon discusses how Gulliver reveals Swift's pessimism concerning one's ability to transcend his or her political and social status because of predetermining cultural forces and inescapable material realities.
Critical Essay by Denis Donoghue
8,317 words, approx. 28 pages
Below, Donoghue discusses ways in which Swift challenged Enlightenment thought and mocked Locke's "tabula rasa" conception of human consciousness, and instead viewed men as destined to be "brainwashed" by ineluctable cultural, political, and social forces.
Critical Essay by J. A. Downie
8,144 words, approx. 27 pages
In the following essay, Downie argues that critics have gone too far in making links between real events and people in British history and the contents of Gulliver's Travels. He suggests that Swift was writing a more general "parallel history" rather than a decipherable allegorical text intended to serve as an exposé.
Critical Essay by J. Paul Hunter
8,047 words, approx. 27 pages
In the following essay, Hunter discusses the significance of Gulliver's Travels as a cutting-edge transitional text that uses satire to parody the subjective, first-person narrative, thus anticipating the rise of the novel as a narrative form.
Critical Essay by Roland M. Frye
7,665 words, approx. 26 pages
Below, Frye discusses ways that Swift's characterization of the Yahoos reflects eighteenth-century Protestant dogma equating the misuse and abuse of reason with sin.
Critical Essay by Arthur E. Case
7,299 words, approx. 24 pages
In the following essay, first published in 1945 and reprinted in 1958, Case argues that many of the geographical and chronological inconsistencies in Gulliver's Travels are not due to Swift's carelessness, but instead are attributable to engraving and printing errors that remained uncorrected in later editions.
Critical Essay by Christopher Fox
6,846 words, approx. 23 pages
In the following essay, Fox studies Swift's employment of the masturbation motif, (i.e. Gulliver's apprenticeship to "my good Master Bates") as a metaphor for excessive, myopic self-involvement, and as a retelling of the myth of Narcissus.
Critical Essay by David Oakleaf
6,821 words, approx. 23 pages
In the following essay, Oakleaf examines how advancements in the capabilities of visual instruments in the eighteenth century destabilized notions of authoritative fixed points of view, causing philosophers, artists, and writers to reevaluate notions of one's ability to observe as well as the inherent bias of personal perspective.
Critical Essay by William Pencak
4,870 words, approx. 16 pages
In the following essay, Pencak comments on Swift's Gulliver's Travels as a critique of English legal injustices but emphasizes that neither anger nor utopian thinking prove useful for Gulliver, but only working within the realities of the present system.
Critical Essay by William A. Eddy
4,676 words, approx. 16 pages
In the essay below, first published in 1923 and reprinted in 1963, Eddy focuses on Swift's satiric, pessimistic, and misanthropic views in arguing the superiority of Gulliver's Travels over other contemporaneous texts employing the "voyage" motif
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